Posted in AmericanSongbook, BrooklynCenterForThePerformingArts, concert

Michael Feinstein Celebrates Sinatra’s 100th Birthday in Style


Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College opened its 2015-16 season with a concert by “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” singer/pianist Michael Feinstein celebrating Frank Sinatra’s centenniel. Guest reviewer Mari S. Gold was there and reports:

Backed by a pianist, bass player and percussionist, Michael Feinstein had the audience at his Sinatra Centennial Celebration at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts eating out of his hand long before he finished his first number.

Feinstein, lithe and ageless at 59, played it smart by singing songs popularized by the Chairman of the Board as Feinstein, not as Sinatra sang them. He recounted meeting Sinatra when playing  a party at Chasen’s in Hollywood  hosted by the Sinatras and attended by the likes of Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor and other Hollywood luminaries. In hopes of having Sinatra notice him, Feinstein played obscure Sinatra songs which, it turned out, the Chairman didn’t like. However, he noticed Feinstein, talked with him and invited him for dinner.  When a young, nervous Feinstein arrived at the home of Sammy Davis, Jr. and was asked if he’d like a drink, he blurted, “Do you have any white wine?” Davis, ever on his game, responded “Baby, in this house we got all colors of wine.”

Feinstein swung through How About You and  That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp; gave a soulful, soft rendition of What Kind of Fool Am I and, backed by  screen stills of a mostly young Sinatra, sang a medley including All or Nothing at All; Angel Eyes; I’ve Got the World on a String and other Sinatra-associated numbers.

Mid-performance, Feinstein, a five-time Grammy® nominee,  talked about the Great American Songbook Foundation he founded in 2007 to preserve and perpetuate the music of masters including Jerome Kern, Sammy Kahn, Jule Styne, Richard Rogers, Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser and others. He introduced the Foundation’s Youth Ambassador, Annie Yokum, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Yokum’s rendition of What Did I Have That I Don’t Have Now, with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, was knock-out and Feinstein’s prediction of a Broadway future for her seems entirely likely.

Feinstein, who sipped water and what appeared to be tea during the performance, reappeared in a suit resplendent with rhinestone buttons, more Las Vegas than his usual somber, though always elegant, attire to sing Cole Porter’s Just One of Those Things, explaining that Porter was Sinatra’s favorite songwriter.  After plugs for his website, his Facebook page and the Foundation, he gave an “encore” number of New York, New York that sent the crowd out very happy, many singing along.

Accompanying Feinstein was heavy- hitting talent including Ted Firth on piano; Sean Smith on bass and Mark McLean on drums. Firth has been musical director/accompanist for Barbara Cook, Elaine Page, Brian Stokes Mitchell and other well-known singers;  has appeared at Carnegie Hall and performed at the White House. A major force in the international jazz scene for over twenty-five years, Smith has his own group which received the CMA/ASCP Award for Adventurous Performing in 2015; he also composes.  McLean began his career in Toronto as a jazz drummer and has worked with a broad array of artists including Billy Joel, Wynton Marsalis and pop icon George Mitchell.

For more information on the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College, please visit



Posted in children's shows, comedy, dance, drama, ShakesBeer, Shakespeare, theater

What’s up around town– a coming soon directory

Picture from
Picture from

For some of you drinks and Shakespeare may sound like a companionable way to spend an early fall afternoon. For you, there is ShakesBEER, NYC’s original Shakespearean pub-crawl. New York Shakespeare Exchange, creator of the viral smash The Sonnet Project, has scheduled the Hell’s Kitchen event for Saturday, September 12 and Saturday, September 19.

Start off at Landsdowne Road, where check-in begins at 2:30pm move on to Perdition, The Gaf, and conclude the festivities at The Waylon.

Scenes from Shakespeare plays break out at each location, as actors stand shoulder-to-side and cheek-by-jowl to the audience, drawing them in to each scene. Samplings from As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry IV, Part 1, are included in the three-hour pub crawl. This season’s Shakespearean bash features plenty of romance, a few mistaken identities, and everyone’s favorite tippler Sir John Falstaff.

The players include Carey Van Driest, who also directs; Chris Thorn; Brendan Averett; Shane Breaux; Elizabeth Neptune; Sarah Nedwek. Besides Van Driest, Eva Gil, and Ross Williams take on directorial duties for September’s ShakesBEER, which is produced by Kim Krane and Cristina Lundy.

Tickets are available at or at the door. Advance booking is strongly recommended.

Pipeline Theatre Company tells a ghost story in the world premiere of The Gray Man by Andrew Farmer, opening September 24-October 18 at Walker Space.

In The Gray Man, Simon is haunted by grief, a little girl who speaks of missing children and a familiar figure from the stories his mother told him outside his tenement window.

The production will be directed by Andrew Neisler, with an original score by composers Mike Brun and Chris Ryan. The Gray Man stars Tahlia Ellie, Daniel Johnsen, Katharine Lorraine, Claire Rothrock, and Shane Zeigler.

Tickets will be available for purchase online at

Dzieci Theater Company presents a site-specific adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Makbet, adapted from and directed by Matt Mitler, begins performances on Thursday, October 1 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 18.
Dzieci’s Gypsy tribe greets you with song and dance, drinks and divination, at Sure We Can in Bushwick, then embarks on their wild, whirlwind of a ritual. Shakespeare’s “Scottish tale” comes alive in this gypsy version, employing haunting folk songs and chants from Eastern Europe. Dzieci explores the very essence of theatre and storytelling in their exuberant rendition of Macbeth, with a handful of actors taking turns in various roles to recreate the dark mood inherent in the classic drama.

The cast of Makbet features Megan Bones, Yvonne Brecht, Ryan Castalia, Felicity Doyle, Timothy Garlid, Golan, Jesse Hathaway, Su Hendrickson, Polina Ionina, and Matt Mitler.

Please visit to learn more about Makbet.

At Brooklyn Performing Arts Center in April
At Brooklyn Performing Arts Center in April

At the Brooklyn Performing Arts Center, Michael Feinstein opens the 2015-16 season with The Gershwins and Me on October 24th.

In a full season of performances, The Vienna Boys Choir, on December 12th, and The Colonial Nutcracker, on the 13th, are BPAC’s holiday offerings.

Since its founding in 1954, Brooklyn Center for the PerformingArts at Brooklyn College has presented outstanding performing arts and arts education programs, reflective of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, and at affordable prices. Each season, over 65,000 people attend performances at the 2,400 seat Whitman Theatre; of these attendees the 45,000 schoolchildren from over 300 schools who attend their SchoolTime series represent one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the borough.

Children’s programming is a large part of the Brooklyn Center’s mission, with productions of Clifford the Big Red Dog™ – LIVE! on April 17th and Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move on May 15th as examples of what’s on tap.

Visit to learn more about the season and ticket options.